In existing homes, sometimes a simple phone call can reveal huge opportunities to save energy and money. The AEP Ohio In-home Energy Program encouraged customers in the greater Columbus, Ohio area to do just that—call to schedule an appointment for an in-home energy audit or assessment. The program had many channels of communication: through the utility’s website and bill inserts, through direct mail and door hangers, through contractors, and finally word of mouth. Once customers had completed the in-home audit or assessment, they could receive rebates on energy-saving upgrades like weatherization, air sealing and HVAC improvements. However, during summer 2013, Ecova’s Marketing & Creative Services had the opportunity to implement a larger campaign to test custom illustrations, and partner with a third party to test customer segmentation and response rates.
Central Ohio is known for its hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. In an earlier winter campaign, the creative team had introduced a custom illustration that “humanized” a home, bundling it up in a scarf to encourage weatherization and heating improvements. AEP Ohio responded positively to the illustration, so for the summer campaign, the team created a concept to convince homeowners that making weatherization and cooling improvements would make their home literally the “coolest house on the block.” The fun, custom illustration was adopted on multiple pieces, from billboards to direct mail to email blasts. Each piece included a unique code that was tracked when customers called the AEP Ohio call center to schedule their audits or assessments or find out more about the rebates.
TRACKING AND SEGMENTING EFFORTS
Ecova’s Marketing & Creative Services worked with Trove Predictive Data Science to analyze AEP Ohio’s customer base in four geographic areas and give customers a “propensity score.” Customers were segmented into Responders (those who call for the initial in-home audit or assessment) and Rebaters (those who perform a recommendation after the audit). Since these segments had different needs, we tested different messages to each segment via e-blasts, direct mail and door hangers in addition to our broader outreach that included outdoor advertising, contractor flyers and energy kits. Overall, there were between 87,000 and 103,000 unique customer touch points. All segmented pieces featured a code that was tracked by the call center when customers scheduled their appointments.
- Customer segmentation
- Response tracking
- Outdoor media
- Project management
- Project coordination
Overall, the campaign offered a huge boost to the program. Response rates increased by 176 percent over a “no marketing” baseline. The Responder-to-Rebater conversion rate increased by seven percent, and the kWh reduction per participant (i.e., the amount of energy the customer is saving) increased by 37 percent. Overall, the Ecova campaign contributed to 33 percent greater reduction in kWh than campaigns consisting of customer outreach events at the Ohio State Fair and the local Parade of Homes.